Oklahoma Still Has Major Earthquake Emergency

PBS News Hour recently ran a long story about the decline in earthquakes here, but it didn’t even get to the point that the drop in quakes corresponds with less fossil-fuel drilling until the bottom of the story or even forcefully point out that we’re still getting rattled by 4.0-magnitude or higher temblors here.

The story by Michael D. Regan is well-written and documented, but the slant is the fictional script that’s getting sold these days by the oil and gas industry and state officials. The script is that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has instituted new regulations on injection wells used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and thus all is well now when it comes to the earthquake problem here.

I think it’s fair to note that there’s been a decline in earthquakes, but it’s really really relative. I’ve written about the numbers previously. Read my most recent take on the numbers. The numbers get reported in all kinds of different ways according to magnitude and yearly and monthly comparisons. I think the oil and gas industry likes this ongoing confusion because, well, it keeps us all confused. Here’s how PBS put it:

The U.S. Geological Survey announced that the state has experienced 461 3-magnitude earthquakes or larger in 2016, down from 592 during the same period a year ago.

Does that seem like a seismic decrease—wordplay intended—given the world oil glut and the decrease in drilling here? Even if you think that’s the case, isn’t 461 3.0-magnitude or above earthquakes still a lot for a place that is not known for much seismic activity in the first place?

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(Pugh, who calls himself a conservative patriot, served a purpose in terms of contrast in the Republican runoff election, but if he was really in favor of public education here, he would suspend his campaign, throw all his support to McDonald and start actively campaigning for him. That would show great leadership and open up doors for him here in the future.—Kurt Hochenauer)

It’s difficult not to see the extremist minister Paul Blair’s defeat in the District 41 Edmond state senate race as a shift in the political milieu here.

Conservatives, of course, are trying to play it as “tone” issue between Blair and the winning candidate Adam Pugh in the Republican runoff election Tuesday, but I believe or at least I want to believe there’s more to it than that. Blair was the next state embarrassment, along the lines of state Rep. Sally Kern, waiting to happen in Oklahoma, and he was soundly rejected.

Pugh collected 4,313 votes or 54.12 percent and Blair collected 3,656 votes or 45.88 percent, according to election board records.

Blair is a conservative minister of the Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond and a former football player in the NFL and at Oklahoma State University. He founded or is very active in some weird movement called Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ or Reclaiming America For Christ (it’s a bit confusing in the media reports), a right-wing extremist initiative in a state dominated by conservative and radical religious people who spew hate and narrow-minded dogma as they meth it up, chew some chaw, drink their 3.2 percent Buds and shoot their assault rifles for fun and pleasure. But, hey, they’re so darn friendly, ain’t they?

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Zoo Responds To Bamboo Attacks

The Oklahoma City Zoo has responded to questions I asked about what I see as the precarious living conditions of its elephant Bamboo, which I outlined in my last post.

The general thrust of OKC Zoo’s argument—zoos contribute to the welfare of elephants as an overall threatened animal population and help try to prevent their extinction—is something I clearly referred to and discussed in the initial post so there’s nothing new there, although I do quote the response in full below out of fairness. I understand this argument, but I don’t agree with the solution for it.

This is from Candice Rennels, the marketing and public relations manager for the zoo:

As stated on the medical records that you have for Bamboo during those dates, we suspect that her tail wound was caused by the bite of a conspecific, although we have no visual evidence to substantiate that. We also suspect that this was caused as the elephants established their dominance hierarchy. Developing these relationships is a normal and necessary process as a new group becomes established. Since the last incident in March, we have not seen any recurrence. We would also like to point out that much of the misinformation that is being stated about zoos ignoring sound science is false. Zoos have in fact been in support of not only funding the science behind elephant welfare, but requiring the management of elephants based on those scientific findings. I would encourage anyone to visit [this] website to review the most up to date scientific articles on elephant welfare and how zoos are playing an important role.

”Conspecific” means a member of the same species or, in this case, another elephant. I also encourage everyone to go to the site listed above by Rennels. The debate over keeping elephants healthy in captivity in smaller enclosures, such as zoos, has been around for a long time.

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